Fleet Farm Asks City for Financial Assistance

Fleet Farm is seeking financial assistance from the City of Sturgeon Bay to build a new store along the west entrance to the city.

Jeff Peterson of CR Structures Group – the representative for Fleet Farm on the proposed development across from the Salty Seagull miniature-golf course along Highway 42/57 – appeared Dec. 13 before the city’s Finance/Purchasing and Building Committee to explain the assistance the company is seeking from the city.

Fleet Farm wants to build a 91,000-square-foot retail store with an automotive service center, exterior yard, gas station and two-bay car wash on the approximately 40-acre site – land the city recently annexed from the Town of Nasewaupee.

“This development is experiencing many of the same inflationary challenges other projects have been experiencing the last few years,” Peterson said. “In addition to elevated typical building costs, complying with the city’s big-box ordinance has increased construction costs by approximately $1.7 million with added features and materials required to be in compliance.”

The city’s large-retail ordinance outlines the acceptable types of high-quality exterior building materials builders may use, and disallows others.

Peterson said the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) is requiring a public entrance off Highway 42/57, and Fleet Farm would like the city to help pay for it. That public entrance would extend to the west as a frontage road for the highway. He said it would benefit not only Fleet Farm, but also housing in the area.

“We don’t want to cut any corners,” he said. “But as we go forward, we also have a budget to deal with, and costs keep rising.”

Depending on the findings of a traffic study of the area, Peterson said the DOT may also require traffic lights for the entrance, which would line up with Grant Avenue on the north side of Highway 42/57.

This drawing depicts the proposed site plan for constructing a Fleet Farm along the west entrance to Sturgeon Bay. The layout calls for a public entrance to the development that lines up with Grant Avenue across Highway 42/57 and traffic lights at the intersection. The company has asked the city to pay for half of those improvements. Submitted.

“That can be a very busy highway – Sunday going home or Friday coming up here,” he said. “A stop light would, again, I think, benefit everybody involved.”

Peterson said Fleet Farm is asking that the city cover half the costs of the entrance and traffic lights. The estimate for the entrance, he said, is $539,000, and for the traffic lights and offsite improvements, it’s $700,000.

Community development director Marty Olejniczak said it would be up to the committee, and ultimately the Sturgeon Bay Common Council, to determine the city’s level of financial involvement.

“You could agree fully with the letter they submitted and to help cover some of these costs; you could go into closed session and negotiate; or you could flat out say, ‘No, we don’t think we should be involved at all – if you want to develop [the project], it’s all on you,’” he said. “Fleet Farm would have to either abandon the project if it can’t afford it, or would have to cough up the additional money.”

District 3 Alder Dan Williams, one of three committee members, favored discussing the possible financial assistance for Fleet Farm in closed session.

“The project, to me, is not the issue at all,” he said. “It’s just a matter of where do we find the spot to hit the middle, so to speak.”

City Administrator Josh VanLieshout said the city has an interest in ensuring that the entryway to Fleet Farm is public.

“By getting it now, we avoid a future situation where we might have to condemn or otherwise take possession of the road,” he said.

Mayor David Ward said Fleet Farm’s development could be part of a bigger project in that area – possibly another tax increment financing district.

The committee went into closed session. Afterward, Ward said committee members instructed city staff to negotiate a development agreement with Fleet Farm.